Fly Fishing the White River in Arkansas

by | Oct 15, 2020 | fly fishing in Arkansas

white-riverJerry Arnold rented us a house down here on the banks of the White River in Arkansas so he, Mike Sexton and I can do some fishing.  We’re about five miles out of downtown Cotter.  It’s a beautiful part of the Ozark Mountains.  The oaks, hickory and walnut trees to name a few, are in full color and this fall morning was cool and foggy.


flyfishingToday we floated ourselves with Mikes boat.  He dragged it down from his home in Missouri.  Mike has been hard at work learning the river the last year and is doing some part time guiding now.  We put in right at the house and spent a full day working our way down to the center of Cotter.


fish-ArkansasYesterday fishing was tough and we expected the same today.  Water levels out of the Bull Shoals Dam have been far from consistent lately keeping the fish on their fins and putting plenty of floating debris in the river.  That being said, we jumped out of the gate with some quick success.  Jerry and Mike nymphed up several little rainbows while I was still enjoying my coffee.


While yesterday was hot with temperatures in the 80°s, today was cool in the 60°s.  We had a beautiful layer of clouds to go with and a few sprinkles as well.  The weather was so different we started to think it might get the brown trout moving.  Sure enough we were right to assume this.


Jerry-ArnoldThe first chunky brown trout came from Jerry.  I was rowing him into a speedy little tail out.  Mike was chucking a streamer from the back.  Jerry had his two nymph indicator rig drifting tight to the bank.  It was a perfect spot and four eyes followed Jerry’s indicator along when it stopped abruptly then went down in a hurry.


When you hook the little rainbows they come straight to the surface.  This fish had some weight and instead of coming up he resisted Jerry’s hook set and went down.  I shouted to Mike, “Get the net ready!  Jerry has a brown!”


Jerry-ArnoldThese fish have some serious fight to them.  There’s plenty of food for them and no doubt it gives them some extra strength.  Jerry got worked over hard with his 6-weight bent deep.  Finally, Mike slipped the net underneath.  We had a beautiful fish and relished our catch with a round of some Good Ass Beer!


Jeff-Currier-fishingThat wouldn’t be the only brown before noon.  Mike took over the oars and I started randomly casting my two streamer rig to the center of the river.  It was deep so I gave a few mends and let my fly get down.  It didn’t take long and I had a handsome Arkansas brown trout of my own.


brown-troutWe landed three nice browns today and a heap of rainbows.  The last brown trout looked much different than the first two.  Instead of giant dark brown spots making the fish look like a Chip-A-Hoy, this one was covered in tiny spots and many were red.  Brown trout are gorgeous no matter how they look!


Cotter-ArkansasIt was beautiful float today that ended in under a pair of old bridges.  This place is cool.  For me, anytime I get to float new water and fish a new river is very refreshing.  No doubt the White River in Arkansas is a dandy.




We returned to the house around 7 PM.  I turned on the baseball playoffs and Mike and Jerry fired up the grill.  You guessed it; we had another feast.  We’ll have plenty of energy for another amazing day on the river tomorrow!


Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing


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I started fly fishing at age 7 in the lakes and ponds of New England cutting my teeth on various sunfish, bass, crappie and stocked trout. I went to Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin, where I graduated with a Naturalist Degree while I discovered new fishing opportunities for pike, muskellunge, walleyes and various salmonids found in Lake Superior and its tributaries.

From there I headed west to work a few years in the Yellowstone region to simply work as much as most people fish and fish as much as most people work. I did just that, only it lasted over 20 years working at the Jack Dennis Fly Shop in Jackson, WY where I departed in 2009. Now it’s time to work for "The Man", working for myself that is.

I pursue my love to paint fish, lecture on every aspect of fly fishing you can imagine and host a few trips to some of the most exotic places you can think of. My ultimate goal is to catch as many species of fish on fly possible from freshwater to saltwater, throughout the world. I presently have taken over 440 species from over 60 countries!